Sunday 25 June 2017

Foster's old-style unionism left chasm with McGuinness that could not be bridged

Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness speak to journalists outside 10 Downing Street in October last year Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness speak to journalists outside 10 Downing Street in October last year Photo: REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

David McKittrick

In his three years as Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness served alongside three DUP first ministers. With one his relationship was astonishingly good, with another it was generally reasonable, while with the third - Arlene Foster - it was frankly terrible.

He got on with Ian Paisley amazingly well, despite the fact that the DUP leader had spent a lifetime fiercely opposing the IRA and Sinn Féin, while McGuinness had built a reputation as a flinty IRA commander.

The two left most of their long-time reputations behind them, replacing old animosities with a new willingness to compromise, both politically and personally. After Paisley's retirement they kept in touch; it is said the two men prayed together, with McGuinness saying on Paisley's death that their friendship existed "until the day he died."

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